If you spend more than five minutes on my blog you will know that travel is a huge part of what makes me tick, that along with my family life, prosecco, coffee, fake tan and box sets.
When you break down my happy places into little parts they will, when put back together, resemble a puzzle packed with stories about experiences which have shaped my life and my career.
So, when the chance to add to my travelling experiences came along I was delighted to be spending some time in Alicante Spain.
Forty hours from when we left until when we would land back at my doorstep seemed a bit unrealistic. However with the short Aer Lingus flight (less than 3 hours ) from Belfast city airport (ten minutes from my home) and a brief fifteen minute (8.8mile) commute from Alicante airport to the city, it was, in fact, possible.
I loved the convenience and as we like to say in Northern Ireland “handiness” !
To save you searching here is a link to the Aer lingus flight details for this route. I did a quick search and it is hard to believe that flights are so low.
Aer Lingus operates a three times weekly service from Belfast to Alicante with fares starting from just £35.99 one-way including taxes.
In addition to Alicante, Aer Lingus also flies to popular sun spots Palma, Malaga and Faro from Belfast. I am a little obsessed with their flights to LA and Miami from Dublin also.
We are restricted to flying during term time because of my husband’s job, but even those dates are showing on the link above as fairly reasonable.
Since my return I have been trying to organise my next jaunt with my hubby who had the kids when I was away. Also I feel like it was easy to adjust because of the simple hour time difference that a weekend with my mum or the girls could also work for this fun location.
I took a taxi to the airport but the parking system at Belfast city airport is pretty slick. Below are some details for you on that.
Last year, the airport launched an upgrade to its online car park booking system enabling passengers to reserve a parking space and pre-pay in just 30 seconds. The secure booking system has introduced a ‘customer account’ element where users can select the option for their details to be remembered, negating the need to complete certain fields every time they pre-book airport parking. The system can just as easily be accessed via tablets and smartphones as it can via desktops.
So what can you do in 36 hours in Alicante?
Let me stop you right there and say that if all you want for a day and a half is a sun lounger, somewhere pretty and clean to stroll and eat lunch outdoors. Maybe a wee glass of wine overlooking a port? This my friend is a perfectly acceptable request and the good news is that it can be done in Alicante!
Throw in the fact that the shops are all two minutes away from your sun lounger after rose lunch, well, you’re all set.
If you are more into sight seeing and possibly have the kids along then adventure awaits (especially if your kids are between six and ten years old and they are studying castles like mine) in the form of an exciting lift to the top of the hill where Santa Barbara castle resides in the rock. It is one of the largest Spanish medieval fortresses built in the 9th century by the Moors.
You can have a guide or simply take yourself around the walled ruins. Don’t worry Mum and Dad, there is coffee at the top.
Jumping back slightly but probably worth throwing in here after talking about kids- I didn’t realise how accommodating Aer Lingus are when travelling with babies and kids until my sister in law told me about the baggage allowance et al on her flight from Dublin to Lanzarote last year.
Below is some note worthy information if you are thinking of taking the sprogs:
Aer Lingus’ Family First Offering
Aer Lingus’ Family First is aimed at giving even greater value to families offering half price on checked baggage and advance seat selection for children aged 2 to 11 years, travelling on short haul flights. Aer Lingus is the family friendly airline, taking great care of all the little crew on board. The benefits include:
All check-in options are free, if families forget to print off their boarding cards in the excitement of it all, there will be no additional charges.
Special baby changing facilities on board
Buggies are checked in and are delivered and ready for pick-up as families disembark
Pre-boarding for babies
Bottle and food warming facilities on board
Generous luggage allowance for children – families can bring children’s travel equipment (buggy / stroller / travel seat) free of charge
I found it so interesting to learn that the castle and city of Alicante was actually used as target practice during the war. With it being a port, Alicante was a hub of activity and changes.
Another thing that my kids would have been fascinated with was when we went underground just off a main street in the city to an air raid shelter.
I did part of my second year in Art college on Auschwiitz after a summer spent in Eastern Europe and find anything historic like this to be both harrowing, fascinating and quite emotional to be honest. So it was good to do this early in the day. Furthermore the castle itself was just beautiful inside and nice and cool which allowed a break from the heat.
The temperature was around 21/22oC when we were there so totally bearable and fantastically hot in secluded spots. Hence my wearing the strapless jumpsuit to make sure I had maximum sun time!
The shops were fantastic with a huge Centro Commercial that we visited and ate on the top floor. Gorgeous tapas with local delicacies along side cava, of course! Some more shopping centres here for your perusal.
The market was another spot I just adored and totally imagined my husband and I wandering around it- him with a beer in his hand (they sell craft beers at the stalls) me buying fresh fruit- huge grapes to have with my locally churned goats cheese, and the lads in awe of the fish market on show.
This market was central to the city and covered so again, another spot in the shade and I noticed a TON of pick and mix “holiday sweets” as we like to call them. So my lads would be in treat heaven!
There is so much wine made locally that we were able to try some white and the most delicious red. We had crisps then drizzled with local honest which didn’t please the masses but I totally loved! I’m the person who enjoys sweet and savoury in one bite so I enjoyed this.
As well as the sunbathing, the eating and the sight seeing (another thing to do is to hire bikes and you can cycle along the promenade for a few miles. Glorious!) you can simply wander around with a map or a downloadable sheet about the old and the new town of Alicante and really enjoy the architecture.
As an artist I was in love with the palette of the entire city. Oranges, muted blues, yellows and greens with some gold. Stunning and it keeps you looking up rather than down at your feet.
Speaking of art they have a modern art museum just en route to the castle on the hill so add that to your activity list.
The hotel we stayed in was a delightful boutique called Les Monges Palace with shutters on my windows, air conditioning, a shower room and toilet and a mini bar stocked with all the treats you need at the end of a long day walking.
There was cool five star hotel we ate at which I think would be so suitable for a luxurious girls weekend. They had a rooftop pool and spa! Here are some other hotels I have been looking at.
So there you are. I worked out on the beach one day and ran the other which felt nice to burn off my weight in delicious croissants and crusty loaf during the trip! To be fair, my cool down involved a refreshing dip in the clear water- amazing.
I will be back in Alicante, if anything, for the convenience of the whole trip. I still can’t believe how quick it was from leaving my crazy household in the afternoon to suddenly be enjoying a wine with Spanish music playing. The fact I can go for a few days and still feel rested and like I got my vitamin D while in a clean, friendly and romantic city is such a winner.
Let me know if you have been before! The night life was lively and just like any Summer abroad with people eating on the narrow streets under parasols with their balmy skin glowing in streetlight.
We experienced Flamenco dancing which was so intense but beautiful! Another reason I love to travel- being immersed in another the world and embracing snippets of culture.
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